Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Great Loop Cruise-The Dream!

One of my future goals is to do The Great Loop Cruise.You're probably asking," What is this Great Loop Cruise?" That's a great question and one I enjoy discussing.The Great Loop Cruise,is simple a navigable loop that encompasses the eastern US and Canada with many interesting points in between.Many people don't know about this watery loop that has mostly existed since our country was founded.The following pic is from Captain John's Website. I will be referencing his site, and giving credit to his site, for my first peak into the Great Loop cruiser's world.

According to Captain John's website,there are roughly 24,000 miles of water ways to be explored.That's more area than a person can reasonably cover in a life time.My plan is to visit a few chosen places while taking in what I can.I would like to make the US loop in 12 to 14 months.If I can add in the Canadian loop,I'd like to extend my time to 16 to 18 months.

I'm not really fond of marina life.I am sort of a recluse.It's not that I don't like people.I just enjoy more face to face time with a few people.The hustle and bustle isn't for me.So I would be gunkholing a lot and fishing some.

Oh wait,you don't know what gunkholing is?Oh how wonderful this is.A lot of boat owners do this and don't know the "boaty" term for it.Gunkholing is simply cruising shallow water areas,usually in coves,and camping out,or over nighting.Wiki has a pretty good gunkholing definition.

Ok,back to the Great Loop.To do this, and keep cost as low as possible,I will be gunkholing instead of docking at marinas all the time.Most marinas have dinghy docks that are free.So I'll be anchoring, or dropping the hook, in a secluded cove and taking the dingy to port as much as possible.

There are many adventures to be had as The Great Loop passes through sooo many places,both large and small.If New York City isn't your thing, there are smaller cruiser friendly cities such as Oriental North Carolina.If you can imagine it,it's probably somewhere around the Great Loop.I would say that most of the Great Loop is accessible by vehicle,if you would like to visit some areas before cruising there.Another interesting feature of the Great Loop are the historic sites.Remember US history and our country be founded by people come and going by water.Well there are a good number of historical sights around the Great Loop that offer lots of interesting entertainment.

So here we are on a boat and YIKES! We need to resupply.How will it be done?That dingy we carry can ferry people and provisions.I know you're thinking,but how will you get the freshly procured provisions back to port, to be ferried to the boat?Well,I walk a lot and I can walk far.A 10 mile loop around town getting provisions, with stops along the way, isn't a big deal.I do have other options.I love those crazy things that kids no longer partake in.What are they called?Oh yeah,bicycles.I own many and will own many more.Bicycle trailers have become cheap and quite large.One I was looking at was almost the size of a compact car trunk with a 180lb load capacity.The admiral, aka wife, and I can potentially haul 360lbs of provisions back to the boat.Think about it.360 pounds of groceries,paper products,and bath supplies.Plus the bicycles are easier to pedal than walking, while pulling a cart, that maybe capable of hauling 50 to 80 pounds of supplies.

Now that we're ready to go,how shall we do it?Which way to go?Most do the Great Loop counter clockwise,or anti clockwise for those that may not use the US terminology.I'm in South Carolina,so I would start by heading north up the coast around the first of April.I would like to land in the upper New England area around late June to early July.If it works out this way,I could spend July and August cruising the Canadian Loop.The end of August and September would be spent cruising the Great lakes and getting ready to make the run down the Tombigbee to the lower Mississippi River.Late fall should be the time to work my way back south to the Gulf of Mexico.This way I can spend the cold winter in warmer waters while working my way around Florida and back up the coast to home.

I guess I should have mentioned the Intracoastal waterway or ICW often referred to as the ditch.This is mostly a natural route protected from the Atlantic Ocean.Think of it as a highway for boats from Florida to New England.It's the chosen route for boating snowbirds heading south for the winter.

Believe it or not,there is an association for the madness.It's called America's Great Loop Cruisers' Association.It's better know as the AGLCA.I highly recommend joining the AGLCA.There is a wealth of knowledge there that can help with trip and route planning.People that are inexperienced at operating a boat, or being in big water, can usually connect with, and travel with a group doing the Great Loop.At any time,you can break away from the group without drama.

In any event,that's my dream and the goal that I am working toward.I plan to build the boat that I will cruise the Great Loop aboard.Health and finances willing,I will spend the end of my life cruising the Great Loop.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Free Spira International Boat Plans Info

I have been getting a lot of questions about Spira International boat plans.Jeff Spira is a great guy to work with.He will even design a boat for you IF you are serious about buying a set of plans.I am only familiar with the plans I have.If you want to see more boats and builds,it is seriously worth it to join Spira's Facebook Page. You can also connect with other builders and speak to Jeff there.He is usually quick to respond,but he does have a life outside of facebook.There is also a lot of good and FREE info on the Spira International website.Read and re read the PDF manuals he produces on boat building.These are free,UTILIZE THEM.Then get a set of plans and build that boat you always wanted.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

My Boat Has Been Built.Well,kind of.

Jeff Spira posted a pic on his facebook page of a 27 foot Sitka.It's almost exactly what I had in mind for my build.I am wanting a slightly forward raked windshield and I will build mine to 30 feet with the Vee entry bow.I plan to stay out without needing a trip to shore for at least one full week.I also plan to do the Great Loop with the boat.

Here I am going to quote Jeff Spira's post on his Facebook page.

A 27' Sitka Pacific Power Dory was recently completed in Minnesota by Raymond Pollock.

According to Ray, it was started in January 2012 and was in the water in the end of October, working mostly alone and taking 6 weeks off in the middle. It features V-Berths, 30 gallons of fresh water, a water heater for the shower, 28 gallon septic tank and 55 gallons for fuel. It also has a full galley and cabin heater.

With the ETEC 115 horse engine, the top speed is 34 mph (according to the GPS) and will cruise over 30, but runs all day and very economically at 22. It maneuvers and handles very well, and doesn't pound when crossing even large boat wakes. It only draws 7-1/2 inches of water with full fuel tanks, two people and a 2 large dogs. For a 27 footer, it tows very easily also.

I do have a message for Mr.Pollock.

 Way to go.Your version of Sitka is top notch.I am jealous.I hope my boat turns out have as good.Looks real professionally done.You're my hero.

 Here is Mr.Pollock's boat.Sweet ride,eh?Click pics for larger view.

Even Mr.Pollock's lovely mother took a turn at the helm.Way to go,I say.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

I'll be back.

I'm not going to go into the boring details,but I will be away from boats and boating for awhile.Due to health issues,I feel I need to stick close to my doctor until he feels that my health is more stable.I was planning to start my boat build spring of 2013.That has been pushed backed until I feel that I can take on a big project.Until then,I will be completing some auto and motorcycles projects while gathering boat parts and materials.Float on my friends,float on.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Gas and Diesel Sterndrive (I/O) Power

In my posts,"The Chosen One.The Boat Plans For Me", and "Fitting Out A Newly Built Boat",I eluded to the fact that a lot areas are starting to ban two stroke outboards.Following Spria Internatioanls horse power chart,building Sitka by the plans,I need 120 recommended horsepower.I am building to the optional plans which extends the boat to 30 feet and includes a vee entry bow.I am also building my cabin larger like the Bahaman's.

Spira International website quote.
The Sitka may be shortened or lengthened from 25-1/2' (7.7M) to 30' (9.1M) in 1-1/2' (457MM) increments. The plans also show an option for a vee entry to the bow, but these Pacific dories ride quite well in rough water with their upturned bows.
The fact that I will need four stroke power plant,limits my options.Four stroke outboards are rare on the used market here and expensive.Then there is the cost of a gauge package and controls.That can easily add $800 to $1000 to the install, considering the length of steering control hydraulic hoses or cables I would need.So I contacted Jeff Spira about using a stern drive,or inboard outboard(I/O) if you prefer.He has approved the use of a stern drive and will make the needed changes to the plans when someone buys the plans.

With everything sorted out and a power plant type has been chosen,I can get on with deciding on which stern drive I want to use.I know that the stern drive will come from a used boat,probably one I buy for a parts donor.I know I need 120 recommended horsepower.I will also have to compensate for the additional weight from the added length,longer cabin,contents of longer cabin,and stern drive.Checking the horsepower chart,the Coast Guard recommended horsepower is 342.That isssss noooooot happening!This is a cruising boat,not race boat.I want some economy.I will mostly be on inland lakes for the first few years before I do the Great Loop Cruise.On lakes,I won't be dealing with fast currents or rough water.I really don't plan to run the boat on plane.It would be nice to have the option.Technically speaking,I could use 120 horsepower.I think I want a little more.

Looking around and asking the right questions,I have decided to go with a carbureted 135 horsepower four cylinder 3.0 liter Chevrolet engine with Alpha I Mercruiser sterndrive.I might get lucky and find a cheap donor boat with a fuel injected 3.0L.The reasons I have chosen this set up over others is numerous.The main one being parts availability.These were produced from the 1970's to present day.They are still being made.There are literally hundreds of thousands of these across the US,Canada,and Mexico,maybe millions.Most parts sellers either have the parts on hand, or can get them fairly quickly,usually overnight without additional charges.These set ups being as simple as they are,most anyone can work on them with basic mechanical skills and knowledge.

While I am cruising to local lakes and enjoying my new boat,I will be designing a new engine install using the 3.0L stern drive set up.The engine will be based on a retuned 1.9 liter turbocharged Volkswagen TDI diesel.Please don't confuse DEtuned with REtuned.Before anyone jumps on the Pathfinder VW diesel and starts bashing them,the only people that had issues with those set ups are the ones that don't understand how to properly run a marinized diesel.99% of all failures were directly related to operator error.CDK's forum post is where I got the idea for this set up.His twins are sweet.

Marine Conversions: Car Engine Conversions for Boats.

Now,where to start.The best place is with the adaption of the diesel engine to the stern drive.I plan to keep the heavy manual transmission flywheel.The weight will help the engine keep spinning and reduce fuel consumption a fraction of a gallon.Depending on the year of the stern drive,all I will have to do is machine the flywheel to accept the engine to stern drive coupler.Next issue will be lining up the engine to keep the engine's crankshaft center line centered with the center of the stern drive's input shaft center line.It's not a difficult process,just tedious.I will use adjustable motor mounts and an engine plate front and rear to mount the engine.Going with the mounting plates will allow me to mount the engine semi solidly at all four corners.The starter will mount to the rear plate in a position that allows access.The starter will be swapped out for an ignition protected unit.

I will use a completely enclosed and self contained cooling system like an automobile.Bowman and Lancing Marine both offer products to marinize a 1.9L TDI VW diesel.I plan to weld up my own using stainless steel tubing.The factory turbo is water cooled but the exhaust side will need a turbo jacket to help contain some of the excess heat.Most of the heat will be absorbed through the water cooled exhaust manifold.The exhaust will run dry.It will be expelled through the stern drive and out of the prop like the original set up.A water cooled oil cooler  will help the longevity of the turbo and engine.In place of the cars radiator,there will be a liquid to liquid heat exchanger.Raw water will pass through a heat exchanger that circulates hot engine coolant through it.Then the raw water will exit the heat exchanger after it's cooled down the coolant.Think of it like this,it's a small radiator, that is sealed inside a box, with water circulating through it.The water box circulates the water around the radiator, to cool off the coolant that circulates through the engine.It's way more simple than it seems.Doing it this way, will allow me to remove the impeller in the lower unit and plug all of the water ports on the exterior of the stern drive.I could leave everything in place and route the water coming out of the stern drive over board.

Know Your Boat's Diesel Engine

The next issue will be the engine itself.Most people that have done this type of install,run the engine as it came from the car.I think I would like to go one step further and have custom ground camshafts to fit the type of use the engine will get.Along with that,I will upgrade the turbo and injectors.The injection pump is electronically controlled.This makes the engine difficult to use in a boat.I will have a custom built and tuned mTDI injection pump that will basically make a one wire engine.The one wire will be to shut off the engine.I will also have a bypass to allow me to run and shut down the engine with no electrical power on the boat.Think of it as a limp home mode.

An air intake for a boat has to be designed in a way that allows enough fresh air into the engine but keeps water out.There are many ways to do it.Mine will basically be two air dams inside a box.The air flows over the first one and under the second one.Then, onto the engine through an intake mounted high on the back side of the box.It's a little hard to visualize but I am no good at drawing with a computer.A lot of marine engines don't run air filters. I will be running a secondary air box with a filter.

Going with a diesel cuts down on the risk of fire.It does not eliminated it.Diesel fumes are not as flammable as gasoline fumes.Ignition protection isn't as critical with a diesel,but that doesn't mean you should use standard automotive electrical parts.I have already stated that I will use an ignition protected marine starter.That goes double for the alternator.As long as the engine is running the alternator could be sparking inside which can ignite any fumes around.I will be running an externally regulated Balmar 150 amp alternator package.

Marine Diesel Engines: Maintenance and Repair Manual

Sewing Machine For Upholstery and Enclosure Canvas

A few years back,my girlfriend and I purchased a 1962 Singer Fashion Mate 237 from my aunt for a song.Soon after,I located an owners manual for the sewing machine on Ebay.Reading through it,I have found that the sewing machine is capable of doing upholstery and canvas sail cloth work.I was a bit surprised that the sewing machine is rated for canvas sailcloth.The sewing machine is heavy,around 80 pounds.I believe the body is cast steel.I know the internals are high quality precision machined steel,possibly hardened.I worked for a friend that did auto,rv,and marine upholstery.His father also owned a household upholstery shop.I worked for him when we didn't have work.At those two shops,I used a Pfaff and a Consew.I briefly had an auto upholstery shop where I leased some off brand sewing machine.It was a horible machine that wouldn't hold it's timing and constantly bent or broke needles.It's not fun having a needle fly past your eye at sub light speed.Always wear safety glasses.Sounds goof,I know,but flying needles can be dangerous.Some of the newer industrial commercial machines have clear plastic glass guards to protect the operator.I don't need,nor can I afford,to go with an industrial sewing machine.

Recently,I had been looking into Sailrite sewing machines.I know that when I build my boat,I will want to do all the work I can myself.After viewing some of their sewing machines,I feel confident that my sewing machine will handle the job.I am not knocking Sailrite sewing machines.They are quality.My sewing machine may not have all the options and accessories as a Sailrite,but it is more than enough for the simplistic interior and canvas work that will be on my boat.I will have a few seat cushions,interior,and exterior window coverings.I won't have a flybridge to deal with covering and/or enclosing.I will enclose my rear deck.I will have a rack over my rear deck to carry my dinghy.My plan is to hang my canvas from the rack like the old external frame tents used in the 1950's and 60's.It will seal to the back of the cabin with a belt rail system similar to those used on Jeep CJs and Wranglers.All in all,there won't be as much sewing on my boat compared to something like a Bayliner of comparable dimensions.

Here are some pictures of my sewing machine.It came with a beat up cheapo cabinet.I will build a small table to set it in when I get ready to do the upholstery for my boat.

Photobucket Here is the cabinet open.The sewing machine nestles down inside of it. Photobucket Lifting the stand allows the sewing machine to rotate up and out of the cabinet. Photobucket Here is the speed control(gas) pedal.It is aluminum with a plastic pedal. Photobucket Here is the machine rotated up out of the cabinet.You can see all the precision steel machine work.Also visible is the date stamp,8162 or August 1,1962. Photobucket This machine has a lot more options than first appears.About 60 different ways to set up for sewing.It will even do embroidery and buttons.That's gotta be useful. Photobucket Here is a picture of the built in light and the motor.Don't be fooled by the motors compact size,it got some power. Photobucket

Monday, July 16, 2012

Carrying A Dinghy On A Boat

My situation is a little unique.I am building a boat and a dinghy.Carrying one,however,has presented a challenge because of my boat build.Most boats use a davit system and carry the dinghy on the swim platform or transom.Some carry them on the roof.At first,I thought the roof would be a good place,but as pointed out to me on a forum post,it's not.Carrying on the roof can make for a dangerous situation in rough water.It's hard to launch a dinghy while it's swinging on a boom or crane.It could crash into the boat and break stuff.It could break loose and hit someone or sink.In an emergency,the boat could sink before getting the dinghy in the water, taking the dinghy down with it.

Most production boats have a lot of freeboard or height of the sides above the water.The boat I am building doesn't have much freeboard at the transom compared to production boats.Because of my boat's lower freeboard than most, presents some major challenges for carrying a dinghy.I can't run a full width swim platform because my I/O comes through the transom right in the middle of it.This rules out swim platform dinghy lifts.A transom mount davit could possibly work,but it would be of my own design.Production davits wouldn't be able to lift the dinghy high enough to clear the water or I/O,at least none that I have seen.Then there is the issue of carrying the dinghy across the back.The dinghy will be longer than the boat's beam is wide.This could cause problems when in tight marinas or narrow channels.Any of these options would severely limit my rear visibility, thus blocking my transom and preventing my boat's name from being visible to other boats.I do plan to tow my dinghy, on the days I plan to use it,if the weather is good.

Some have suggested that I go with an inflatable or folding Porta boat.I've had issues with inflatables in the past and they are heavy for their size.Some folding boats are a little to flimsy to really carry any weight.I need to be able to carry roughly 800 to 1000 pounds.I don't think it's possible,so two trips to shore will be required.Maybe I could pull a ski tube behind the dinghy with our supplies in it.Wait,I know!I'll toss the kids in the ski tube and put our provisions in the boat.They will love that.

My hull draft will only be 16 to 18 inches,so I could possibly drop anchor and wade to shore.I'm not sure how my significant other and our kids will like that.Got to keep Mama happy,LOL.When I am in a marina,I will more than likely moor the boat, while we go ashore for provisions.If the area will allow for it,I could beach the bow and let everyone off ,moor the boat,and take the dinghy back to meet the family.When we return,I could take the dinghy back to the boat,bring the boat back to shore,and load up.Seems like to much work.Some places will allow boats to temporarily dock for a quick trip to town for supplies.that would be the ultimate solution.

I still have a while to go before I make a final decision on how to carry a dinghy.Until then,I will be looking and watching other boats and how they carry a dinghy.I'm always open to suggestions.

After some discussion on the Trawler Forum,I am considering adding a rear rack to carry my dinghy and to hang the rear canvas enclosure from.I feel that this rack needs to be removable.I only plan to carry the dinghy when I do the Great Loop Cruise.Every where else I will be able to dock or trailer the boat out.Here is what I had in mind for those that are scratching their heads trying to figure out what I am rambling on about.

More info on the boats in the picture can be found at Allweather Boats.